SOMERS, N.Y. - A bus driver for the Somers Central School District has been arrested on charges of drunk driving, more than a week after he was taken off his route when students complained of erratic behavior during the afternoon drop off from school.
According to State Police, William J. Mendez, 61, of Somers, was allegedly driving a school bus carrying Somers Intermediate School students with a blood alcohol level of .22 percent on Dec. 9.
Troopers arrested Mendez on Dec. 18. He is charged with an aggravated DWI, a felony, under Leandra's Law.
Police did not immediately respond to further questions and have not released more information.
Earlier in the week, Superintendent Dr. Raymond Blanch sent out an email to parents and faculty about the incident, but had limited information because no arrest had been made at the time.
Blanch said in the email that the district's transportation director contacted Mendez on the hand-held radio and told him to stop where he was after students told parents something was wrong. When the transportation director caught up with the driver, Mendez claimed he had taken medicine for a cold.
While the transportation director was helping the students and supporting the parents who had arrived, the Royal Coach Terminal Manager transported Mendez to the bus garage. EMTs, and shortly thereafter a New York State Trooper arrived at the bus garage and the decision was made to transport Mendez to the hospital.
A new driver has been assigned to Bus P, and the district said the new driver is a trusted Somers Central School District driver of five years and a volunteer firefighter in town.